From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Neil Flambé is an interesting teen—a passionate chef, ignored son of a lawyer mom and an ad-executive dad, overwhelmed student, and the "Nose" to Inspector Nakamura, who relies heavily on him to help solve cases. When chefs across town turn up murdered, Neil sniffs some strange spices at the crime scenes, but he can't quite put his finger on what they are, which is unusual for him. When he stumbles upon a journal once owned by Marco Polo, he gives it to his cousin to transcribe. As the journal unfolds, it becomes more and more evident that the deaths are somehow tied to Marco Polo's long-ago journey to take a princess to her betrothed. Polo went to his grave with that secret, thinking no one would ever discover his terrible mistake. A romance between Isabella, the daughter of a chef, and Neil is a little mature for a 14-year-old but it probably won't bother middle school readers. This would be a great book-club choice. Participants could create the perfect seven-course meal as an accompaniment to discussing such an engaging and lively read.—Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
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"This exuberant culinary mystery has the behind-the-scenes panache of Disney’s Ratatouille
and is held together by a kid who is as cocky in the kitchen as Gordon Ramsay (whose blurb graces the cover!).
Fourteen-year-old Neil Flambé is pretty much a failure when it comes to math, chemistry, and art, but he is a genius when applying those subjects to his own recipes at his celebrated Vancouver restaurant. Neil has got a superdeveloped olfactory sense, and the police call him “The Nose” while using him to sniff around crime scenes. The latest call to detect trace evidence involves a series of murders of Vancouver’s top chefs. Neil picks up an exotic chai spice mixture on the dead chefs’ lips and a baffling “something else” that he can’t quite put his nose on. The murders continue, and Neil himself, unable to solve the crimes, becomes the chief suspect. First published in Canada in 2010, this series starter is over-the-top fun and features an intriguing link to Marco Polo’s last voyage." — Booklist
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